OMB Watch has released a report claiming that state oversight laws requiring the disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing do not adequately protect human health and local water supplies. According to the government watchdog, only 13 states with active wells require any disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, and seven states with significant gas drilling activities require no public disclosure of the chemicals used. Of the 13 states with some form of disclosure requirements, only four require disclosure before the start of drilling operations. The report also claims that most state regulations provide broad exemptions to disclosure requirements by allowing companies to claim that the chemicals used in their drilling activities constitute “confidential business information.”
The report recommends an effective disclosure policy that would (i) compel companies to disclose what chemicals they would use in hydraulic fracturing operations before receiving a drilling permit, (ii) require companies to disclose the specific concentrations and quantities of chemicals used, (iii) close “loopholes” by limiting confidential business information claims, and (iv) create a searchable database of chemicals used on a public Website. The report also urges the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies to track and monitor the use of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act and Toxic Substances Control Act.